Determining legislative intent in Massachusetts can be a difficult task. Few successful bills make it to the Governor’s desk accompanied by detailed reports. When there is a report about the need for the new legislation it is usually appended to the original bill that becomes part of the Legislative Documents series.



1. Find the section of the Massachusetts General Laws that you wish to research.

2. Following that section in the annotated laws (ALM or MGLA) you’ll find historical notes with references to chapters in the Massachusetts Acts & Resolves (cited as “St.”)

These citations are to original enactments or amendments to that section over the years.

  Resource/Location Library/Call Number
Acts & Resolves of Massachusetts     5th  Floor States

Also on Microfiche on the 4th Floor

KFM 2425 .A213
Massachusetts Session Laws, Annual 1997-  5th  Floor States
KFM 2425 .M38 

3. Early Official Codifications & Compilations

Library/Call Number
Colonial Laws of Massachusetts (Cited C.L,) 
1st  Floor Non-core KFM 2430 1672 .A2 1887
Revised Statutes of 1836 (Cited R.S.) 
1st  Floor Non-core
KFM 2430 1836 .A22 1836
General Statutes of 1860 (Cited G.S.)   1st  Floor Non-core

KFM 2430 1859 .A223 1873

Public Statutes of 1882 (Cited P.S.) 
1st  Floor Non-core
KFM 2430 1881. A22 1882
General Laws of 1921 (Cited G.L.)  
1st  Floor Non-core
KFM 2430 1921 .A22 1921 
General Laws, Tercentenary Edition (1932)  1st  Floor Non-core
KFM 2430 1921 .A22 1932

4. To convert the Chapter number back to the original Bill number you can use the table found at the back of the annual Bulletin of Committee Work. The Bulletin is located at the end of each year’s Legislative Documents, or for the years after 1973 consult the tables in:

Library/Call Number
Acts Approved by the Governor 1967 -1973 
5th  Floor States KFM 2441 G84 1967

Guide to Massachusetts General and Special Acts


KFM 2441 .G85

1985- 2008           
5th  Floor States

KFM 2441 .G85

Index to the Acts and Resolves Passed by the General Court 1993-2016 
5th  Floor States
KFM 242 .A2132 
 For Acts since 2010 see the Legislature’s website    

See the Legislative Documents for the text of bills and possibly some commentary:  Bill texts for years prior to 1945 are located at the State Library of Massachusetts, State House, 3d floor and online at

Resource/Location Library/Call Number
1945 -1966   5th  Floor States

 KFM 2406 .M37 

5th  Floor States
KFM 2406 .M37

6.  For summaries of legislative proceedings see the Journals of the House and Senate 

Resource/Location Library/Call Number
1715-1779                   5th  Floor States
KFM 2418 .M36
1867-                                                                           5th  Floor States
KFM 2418 .M36

7. For reports issued by the General Court on specific topics see

Resource/Location Library/Call Number
Index of Special; Reports Authorized by the General Court 1900-1988 with Supplement 1988-1994             5th  Floor States
KFM 2418.5 .M37


1. The SPONSOR of the bill might provide information about the legislation. For contact information about Massachusetts legislators see:

2. The STATE ARCHIVES has “Legislative Packages” for bill introduced since 1775.

220 Morrissey Blvd. Boston
617 727-2816 
Provide the bill number and year.
Current legislative packages are with the House and Senate Clerk’s office, State House
(617) 722-2000


3. For further information regarding debates, proceedings, committee hearings and news release consult the STATE LIBRARY:

 State House, Room 341 (617) 727-2590


The Massachusetts General Court offers bill tracking of current legislation through its home page:

The State Library has Massachusetts Acts & Resolves in searchable portable document format (pdf) from 1692-.

The State Library has House and Senate Bills as well as House and Senate Journals in searchable pdf‘s from 1840 -

Masstrac/Instatrac: Available for in-library use, includes bill texts and tracking, roll call votes and a wealth of other information about bills and laws since the 1995-1996 legislative session. Masstrac is available for in-library use. 


State House News Service: provides daily and archived coverage of the Massachusetts House and Senate sessions since 1986. Materials include articles, profiles, summaries, forecasts, and background information on virtually every aspect of Massachusetts government, politics and regulatory affairs. State House News Services is available for in-library use.


has Massachusetts Acts & Resolves, 1661-  and older codifications and compilations of Massachusetts laws. Available in-library and remotely to Public members and Private members with less than fifty attorneys.


Available for in-library and remote use, includes House and Senate Journals and Debates of the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention of 1917-18.

New England Law Boston has Reports of the Massachusetts Legislative Research Council 1964-1994 and Indexes of Special Reports Authorized by the General Court 1900-1994.